Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Stroke Survival~ Memory or Lack There Of

I don't know who drew this but it fits!
These days, you will often here me saying, "Of all the things I've lost,(with my stroke) I miss my mind the most." No, I didn't make this up matter how much it applies to my  current situation. It was first written by Mark Twain.

Having a mind like a steel trap, a sponge, a filing cabinet before my stroke I still have difficulty with memory. I call it my dyslexic/ADD brain now. I know I know what I know, but the trouble is finding the material I need at a given moment.

When I was a young child, mnemonics helped train my memory to what it was pre-stroke defined as a photo and phonographic memory.  I've digressed in time trying to retrain my brain. The only problem with mnemonics is that you have to remember what those letters or words stand for. I'll ponder the letters and can't remember only to get side tracked as a new image or thought flutters across my brain. Sometimes it's just easier to remember what I'm trying to remember. For example- mathematics order of solving an equation is parentheses, powers, multiple, divide, add, and subtraction. The mnemonic is "Pretty please my dear aunt Sally." Or something like that. I always found that mnemonic hard to remember even when I had all the marbles in my head.

  • Grrrr! Spilled Coke Zero on my keyboard last night and now the keys are sticking making my life difficult. That's what I get for being lazy and not dismantling my keyboard and cleaning it right away. Be back to memory after I do that.
  • Back! Geez, that was quick! Actually 3 hours have past.
It's like my beloved's former self. He'll hide important stuff in a safe spot. At the time he thinks it is a very safe spot and it makes logical sense. Like putting a prescription in the magazine (his) in he is reading in the doctor's office.  Days later, when I need to fill the prescription at the local CVS I'll ask him for it. He'll swear he gave it to me when I can't find it on the bulletin board. I in turn swore that he didn't. (He didn't) After thinking back in time, he will remember he put it in a magazine for safe keeping.

But which one? He couldn't remember. Then it dawns on him. It's in the Time magazine. I ask him, "Do you mean the Time magazine I shredded yesterday because you can you were through with it?" Yep, that's the one. It was a very logical, safe spot. Except now it is worm food and compost. After that I checked every page before shredding anything. Memory is fickle and fleeting.

Initially, I found it's easier to use post-it notes to jog my memory because I knew I had memory issues. There is only one huge problem with that. See the picture? Yep, they have a way of piling up.

Nowadays, I use a calendar with appointments on it. There are so many people coming in and out of our house these days, and my doctors to keep track of.

For where physical things are, I use one post-it note on a cabinet telling what's inside. I made it a habit of putting things in the same place every time.  Now after two years, I no longer need the sticky notes on where to find it. I still will get turned around and have to search for something, but not as bad. Even my car keys have a special pocket in my purse or a wrist loop on them. When someone else borrows my keys and puts them back in the wrong spot, the wrist loop will help me find them.

All other things like telephone calls or items I want to remember get jotted on a 5x7 note pad under my keyboard. Each day I date the new page or draw a line and write a new date. By date I mean month, day, year, and day of the week. I just can't depend on my memory anymore. Yes, it got soaked by the Coke Zero too and had to be transcribed again. A little extra writing time left hand can't hurt, can it?

When the notepad has no more clean sheets I write to beginning and ending date on the cardboard back. I'll double check to pages before I shred them. (usually after a couple of months) Because there will be little recall-able data after it's been shredded, put in the rabbits' litter boxes to be peed on or consume by said animal. I honestly wouldn't want to try, would you? Nah, I didn't think so.

So how do you restore memory? If I had the answer to that I'd be a gazillionaire. I wish I had the answer. Why does an Alzheimer's patient not remember their name but pretend to iron sheets all day? So many unanswered questions in this world and this is just one of them. All I can do is work at it each and every day. In business, it is location, location, location. Post stroke, it repetition, repetition, repetition.

Nothing is impossible with determination.


  1. What's the saying? That the brain is a black box. We think we know how it works until it doesn't. Good luck! {{{{hugs}}}}

  2. My husband refers to his mother's dementia as having read-only memory, from back in the day when computer memory couldn't be erased and overwritten, or even added to. That's an electrical engineer for you.

  3. Ouch, so sorry about the shredded prescription! I write myself lots of notes. Lots. Hubby makes fun of me for it, but it's the only way I can stay organized.

    Nothing is impossible with determination. Keep at it, Jo. You're doing great!


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